RENO — Proof of Nevada’s importance in the outcome of the horse race that is the presidential election continued to be on display Thursday, with President Obama visiting Las Vegas and GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan making stops in Reno and in Southern Nevada.With only days before the Tuesday general election, both campaigns continued to reach out to undecided voters in battleground states including Nevada and Colorado.Ryan, speaking to a Reno-Sparks Convention Center crowd estimated by local law enforcement at about 600, continued to push the Romney-Ryan message calling for change, pointing to what he termed Obama’s failed efforts at job creation. Nevada leads the country in unemployment at 11.8 percent in September.Ryan also stumped for Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who is locked in a battle with Rep. Shelley Berkley in the U.S. Senate race.“The economy is limping along,” Ryan said. “It’s growing at less than half the rate President Obama said it would if he could just pass this stimulus plan. This is not what a real recovery looks like.”“The president can’t run on this record,” he said. “He can’t say to Nevadans, ‘look at my record therefore vote for me.’ This is why he’s running this kind of a campaign of division, of distraction, of distortion, to try and win an election by default. We’re not going to let him get away with it, are we.”Ryan criticized a recent comment by Obama that he would create a new cabinet position focused on business if re-elected, saying there’s already a federal secretary of commerce and “we don’t need a new secretary of business.” What the county needs is immediate presidential executive orders putting “ObamaCare on the path to extinction,” cutting red tape and excessive federal regulation and allowing energy production on federal lands, Ryan said.At nearly the same time in Southern Nevada, Obama took the stage with about 4,500 people on hand to hear him speak. Obama began by addressing the crisis wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, assuring the crowd that help will come for hurricane victims.Obama then laid out the choices people have in this election, highlighting the differences between him and Romney. He talked about the growth of jobs in the country and the end of the war in Iraq. Whenever he referenced Romney’s policies the crowd booed, until he generated cheers by saying, “Don’t boo, vote.”“We made real progress in the past four years, but Nevada, you know our work is not done,” Obama said.Early voting closes today. As of Thursday morning, more than 575,000 Nevadans — or 46 percent of Nevada’s active voters — had cast their ballots either in person or by mail. Of those who have voted in person, 45 percent were Democrats, 37 percent were Republicans, and the rest were nonpartisans or voters affiliated with minor political parties.• The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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